*Spoiler free review ahead.
This “more than just a piece of eye candy” is Geralt of Rivia. Swoon. He’s from a fantasy land where once upon a time, a conjunction split the veil between worlds, allowing mystical creatures to spill into his. In an effort to battle the “forces of evil”, the Witchers were created by terrible means, Geralt among them.
This 2015 Game of the Year winner has all the facets of well, everything, not just gaming, I’m drawn to – Medieval-like fantasy world, old world order of potential do-gooders, magic, sweeping backdrops with a rich, layered history – it was without fail that this would become my new favorite thing.
I was nearing the end of my first playthrough when for Christmas this year, The Sis bought me a series of books, and that’s when I learned a bit of the history of The Witcher. I had no idea the game was based on novels by fantasy author Andrzej Sapkowski. The first book, The Last Wish was published in 1993. That’s a long time to be clueless about something I was destined to love. There are currently eight books in the series, three games, a failed Polish movie and tv series, and a new show by Netflix was just announced. Now that could prove interesting as everyone is on the hunt for the next Game of Thrones-like series.
I started the game completely oblivious to the storyline as I had not played the previous two. Not the best idea when the world you’re walking into is already so established. Maybe it was because of this, I felt a bit of disconnect initially from Geralt. I didn’t know who he was, where he had been, or why people hated him because he was a Witcher. His purpose seemed like a good one.
There was war brewing on all fronts and with monsters running amok, no one seemed concerned with the other impending threat, the Wild Hunt. Frightening, almost unstoppable warriors with skeletal armor from another world, the Wild Hunt appears with a frost that dramatically affects the world around them. And these “things” were chasing after my (Geralt’s) ward-like daughter, Ciri.
The beautiful girl with an interesting background and the voice of a Dragon Age character (Hawke from DA2) immediately became my concern (and I do mean mine). And that became the true purpose of the game – find and protect Ciri.
I had to force myself to play the game the first few times, which did not thrill me because I had been so excited to play after watching a trailer. This one, specifically: (*Be forewarned that this includes content not suitable for all ages.)
After those initial attempts, I decided to just follow the main storyline objective and things became more clear. I was still a bit lost when it came to matters of politics and the hatred towards witches and non-humans, but the further I delved into this world, the easier it became to navigate, and then suddenly, I was in love.
The game is beautiful and expansive. Cut scenes are cinematic, and there are a lot of them. Many times I felt like I was in a movie that I was lucky enough to be able to move around in.
*Helpful hint: Unlike some games, you can not put the controller down and walk away during conversations. Often times there are timed responses, so you don’t want to lose out on that choice.
There were a number of comments made by people in-game who thought they knew who Geralt was. I chose to make him more kind, almost out of spite because no one was going to talk about my boy like that in front of me and get away with it. Also, in part because I always play the “nice guy” when morality meters are involved. Sometimes we chose to fight, but sometimes we were merciful, giving our enemies reason to pause. The more I played, the more I liked him. The mutagens given to him as a boy to make him a Witcher made his hair turn white and stripped him of his outward emotion, but he has a good sense of humor, is loyal, and cares deeply.
As the game progressed, I learned why people both liked and feared him. Witchers are considered freaks themselves, unnatural. As a hired monster slayer known as the White Wolf, not only is he a fearsome warrior with a bloody reputation, he’s also known as being quite the womanizer. There are a few women to romance in the game, and Geralt, looking the way he does and having women throwing themselves at him took each opportunity. Although to be honest, I’m not sure how likely this all would have been back in 2007. Thank the advances of technology!
Helpful tip: Romancing multiple characters can bite you in the a** if you’re not careful.
The witch in the trailer is Yennefer, Geralt’s long time, on again-off again lover. She’s powerful and self-assured with a biting wit, and it’s easy to see why she and Geralt are continually drawn back to one another. While she aligns herself with powerful allies, like kings and emperors, the adorable and sweet Triss Merigold is helping witches escape the fires as hunters close in.
There’s history with each of these women, and more of their pasts are divulged as the game continues, making it understandable why Geralt, and I, had a hard time choosing. 😉
There’s a great deal to discuss with this game. There are many facets and intricate details that made this game so mesmerizing and engaging, but I will draw my rambling review to a close. Perhaps in the near future I will post a Witcher Review: Part II.
Like Dragon Age, where your character’s decisions influence the world around you, I failed on occasion to complete certain side quests in a timely fashion and that ended up shaping the world for the better or worse (Eh, it was my first playthrough after all, and it’s all a learning curve.), but because of the immersive quality, this is a game that has definite replayability. It’s a word.
If you enjoy the fantasy trope RPG, this will, without a doubt, speak to you…as it did me. By far, one of the best games I’ve played. Yes, you read that correctly. It’s up near Dragon Age. And now that I have a few books at my disposal, let the new obsession begin.
So, I’m smitten. How about you, fellow gamers? Have you played? Let’s discuss!